Bruno and I left our western veterinarian office on dreary overcast November day with little hope. The vet had diagnosed Bruno with Degenerative Myelopathy and I was familiar with the disease. I rationally understood that this disease has a genetic predisposition and that this was the unfortunate deck of cards that Bruno had been dealt.
What I could not stomach was the “nothing can be done” part. I was not ready to sit back and accept to do “nothing” besides pain management for my loyal canine companion. It took me about a day to mull over Bruno’s fate, the reality of what lay ahead, and all the possible scenarios that could occur leading up to Bruno’s final days. This led me to online research about “alternative” health care otherwise known as eastern medicine. I had personally had positive experiences and success with alternative medicine so what was the harm in looking into it further? What did Bruno and I have to lose?
I found a facility in the local area that specialized in acupuncture, chiropractic care, and therapy rehabilitation for animals. I made an appointment not sure what to expect but I was optimistic. In the days leading up to the appointment, I began to talk to Bruno about the up and coming trip. I repeatedly told him that we were going to go to a new place to meet some new people and get him some more help. I told him that we were going to like this place and everything was going to be “all good”.
We arrived for our appointment, weighed in, filled out the customary paperwork and were led into a private room. We did not have to wait long before Dr. Madeline Yamate entered and introduced herself. Dr. Yamate oohed and awed over Bruno and disclosed her love for German Shepherds and working dogs. We were off to a good start.
We discussed Bruno’s history and everything that had led up to this appointment. Dr. Yamate watched Bruno walk and then proceeded to feel, rub, push, pull, and poke around on Bruno who showed no signs of distress or pain. The next thing that Dr. Yamate did was map out a game plan.
Unfortunately, eastern medicine had no secret miracle cure for Degenerative Myelopathy but what it was capable of doing was holistically managing Bruno’s pain and potentially slowing down the progression of his Degenerative Myelopathy. We would treat Bruno with acupuncture, herbs, joint supplements, and change his diet. Dr. Yamate informed me that after a one month period we would re-evaluate Bruno’s condition and determine if he was responding to the acupuncture treatments and make decisions from that point.
I appreciated Dr. Yamate’s frankness and honesty as this was going to be a bit of a lifestyle change and none of this was going to be cheap. In the meantime, before Dr. Yamate would begin treatments she needed x-rays of Bruno’s neck and back. She also asked for a senior screen consisting of blood work and urine. Basically, we were going to rule out anything and everything to be sure Bruno was treated correctly for the highest possible success rate.
Besides obtaining more x-rays and the senior screen I had additional instructions to put on my “to do” list. I was to get Bruno active and start exercising him again. I had stopped doing this back in October in fear of making his condition worse or causing him more discomfort or pain that I might not be able to read. Instead, by babying him, I was actually accelerating his condition and making it worse under the premise of “You don’t use it, you lose it!”
Also on my list was to get some weight off of the big guy and change his diet by gradually getting him off of commercial dog food. No commercial dog food? Bruno was to be converted over to a diet of meat and vegetables. I had told him he was going to like this place.
Up until this point, I had taken everything in stride until I realized meat and veggies meant cooking for the dog. “It’s not that big of a deal” Dr. Yamate casually commented, “When you are cooking your dinner you just cook up a little extra for Bruno.” I am assuming that I must have stupidly nodded in agreement but I can’t really be sure. You see, I don’t “cook” much less eat vegetables. In fact, I do everything in my power to avoid both. I’m now going to be cooking for the dog? Are you kidding me? This is going to confirm to my friends and family that I have officially “lost” any sanity that I might have once had.
Bruno and I returned home and all in all, I felt that our appointment had been very positive. I’m not so sure that Bruno had bought into our new adventure but I was optimistic. Alternative medicine might not end up helping Bruno but we were going to try it. We had a plan and we were taking action, we were at least “doing” something. Things were looking up.
*Originally posted May 2, 2010 *